Phase 5 of the MCU is currently set to conclude with Thunderbolts, and ahead of its debut a couple of its stars explained some of the differences between the two teams.
2024 will bring Marvel Studios' take on the Thunderbolts to life for the first time in a unique team-up that won't feature the team many are used to seeing in the Avengers. While this new group actually includes one member of the Earth's Mightiest Heroes, Sebastian Stan's Winter Soldier, most of the characters announced at the 2022 D23 Fan Expo have been seen as villains or darker characters in past projects.
Thunderbolts will be Phase 5's major crossover story in place of the usual Avengers-centric outing, with those being saved until the end of Phase 6 in 2025 and 2026. But what can fans expect to see from this team that will set them apart?
Well, one of the movie's biggest stars explored that idea as they prepare to develop this one-of-a-kind MCU adventure.
How Are the Avengers Different From the Thunderbolts?
Speaking with ComicBook.com's Phase Zero Podcast, Thunderbolts star David Harbour explained how his team is something completely different from the Avengers in the MCU.
Harbour described the group as "the losers" and explained how fun it is to "watch (them) just mess everything up." With all the drama that the team brings, along with their flaws, the actor compared them to the Avengers in that "nobody gives them the respect" that heroes like Captain America and Iron Man get:
Comicbook: “The Marvel universe has given us teams like The Avengers, who are the noble people, the Guardians of the Galaxy who are kinda like the cosmic antihero silly bunch. Where on that spectrum do you think this group is gonna fall?”
Harbour: “We’re… like, losers, which I like. We’re like, you know, the losers. And I think it’s fun to watch us just mess everything up. I think that’s the spectrum. I think it’s very funny, but there’s also a lot of pathos in that. There’s a lot of drama in a bunch of people that just keep getting their lives wrong and, because of character flaws, keep messing things up. And nobody gives them the respect that they do to Captain America and Iron Man, very capable people. So there’s a lot to draw on there. There’s a lot of movie there that’ll be fun.”
During the presentation for Thunderbolts at the D23 Fan Expo, Marvel Studios president Kevin Feige called the team a "ragtag bunch" of characters with goals that are "not...as lofty" as groups like the Avengers:
“You know, one thing in the Captain America film is that there currently is a world without the Avengers. Sam Wilson finds himself as Cap at a time where there’s not an organization of Avengers. But just because there’s not an organization of the Avengers doesn’t mean there’s not a group of superheroes in the MCU. Not a group, perhaps, as lofty as The Avengers but there’s a group and they’re called the Thunderbolts. The Thunderbolts are finally coming through the screen and they are a ragtag bunch.”
Winter Soldier actor Sebastian Stan called his new team "a good troubled bunch" as he looks forward to the opportunity to "join a team of some sort" after his own experiences with the Avengers:
Val actress Julia Louis-Dreyfus doubled down on Feige's "ragtag" comment, while Stan added that fans will have to wait for the movie's release to find out whether the team is really made up of heroes or villains, noting how "unconventional" it is:
Louis-Dreyfus: “Well, Kevin described us as ‘ragtag,’ so we’ll go with that.”
Stan: “Well, again, maybe that’s what the movie’s gonna answer, right? It’s always interesting when you as an audience member have to maybe decide whether we are villains or heroes. But I think it’ll be interesting, I think that’s what’s compelling, I guess, about the movie, is sort of that it’s very unconventional like that. It sort of starts out a little bit like ‘who’s really the protagonist or antagonist,’ I guess.”
Thunderbolts Lowering the Bar Set By Avengers
Looking at the Thunderbolts roster alone sets the stage for a team that will operate far differently from the Avengers, starting right from the top with a dark and mysterious government official in Julia Louis-Dryfus' Val. Throw in a notoriously egotistical super-soldier in the Red Guardian and the disgraced former Captain America in U.S. Agent, amongst others, and it makes for an absolutely volatile recipe that could end in disaster.
While fans are used to seeing teams in the MCU that come together successfully for the greater good, Harbour's quotes seem to indicate that the Thunderbolts will have more than their fair share of trouble figuring out how to get to that goal.
Considering Bucky Barnes is the only member of the group that's been a full-blown hero before, and considering the wild personalities in the rest of the group, fans can expect to see plenty of mishaps and missteps before they accomplish whatever their eventual mission is.
Thunderbolts will premiere in theaters on July 26, 2024.